The date of this post is March 16th, National Brian Injury Awareness day 2016. That brings to mind different types of awareness that apply to brain injury.
The survivor’s perspective is unique to the individual. There is the awareness or rather lack of awareness that most of us have early in the recovery process. Our focus if you can call it that is simply getting thru the next minute. My new reality is an extremely shrunken version of my old world and it contained a population of one. It has eventually broadened but still shrinks back sometimes as fatigue increases. How quickly improvements take place is influenced by any number of factors, some under our control and some not. They range from the type and severity of the tbi to family members and friends reaction the injury. Insurance coverage has far more to do with outcome than it should. Another factor is the availability of quality medical facilities.
In my case which is the only case I can talk about from first hand experience, I became aware of things that had changed, which are referred to in our world as deficits, as I tried to do things. In a way, this gave Bonnie an awareness of a serious deficit in that I didn’t try to do much of anything. They call that self motivation initiation. This lack of initiation made recovery a slower process than it could have been. Some tbi survivors have to be told to slow down but in my case, I need a few kicks in the pants to get started.
Another random thought was brought to mind when I heard about Todd Palin’s snow machine accident, similar in a way to my accident. What I heard most in the reports was about all the broken bones and physical things that need fixed. The focus on me at the trauma center was how to fix what was obviously broken. Titanium here, stitches there screws and pins where needed. They did point out that there was some bleeding on the brain but it was not the primary area of focus. I live in a very small rural town in West Virginia where I see people young and old riding 4-wheelers and dirt bike everywhere even in town and most of the time, they don’t wear helmets. That’s not ok for anyone but when 2 children are on the back of an ATV with no helmets, someone needs to get dad’s attention. My trauma center was Grady Memorial in Atlanta. It is one of the best in the world but there is nothing around here even close so it scares me to think how much attention a closed head injury like mine would get around here if any.
Enough of my rambling focus on the negative. What survivors and caregivers do with their awareness of deficits makes all the difference in recovery. I chose to focus on things important to me and try to make myself the best “Husband #2” I could be. I have been around many tbi survivors who have a negative “victim” outlook and never try to make their situation better. Some of that has to do with the support system or even the absence of any support system. I would like to find some ways to help survivors who weren’t blessed with an angel and good insurance get the help they need and deserve. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.